Recently my dog Simon and I had a bit of a clash with our neighbors. Apparently, these neighbors were deathly afraid of dogs but instead of notifying the people around them who owned dogs, they notified the apartment complex office. Since there were no resident names attached to the complaint, the office just let the information sit instead of sharing it with the other residents.
Unfortunately, Simon, my 14-year old yellow lab, is a very friendly dog and says hello to everyone, and on this particular day…he said hello to the wrong neighbors. The woman began screaming and her husband began shoving Simon away and chasing him (who knows to what destination) until I finally got them to stop yelling and had calmed Simon down enough so that he wouldn’t run away anymore and instead just sat still.
I was shocked. I’d been living in the complex for 4 months now, had seen these people on a regular basis, and had no idea that they were so terrified of dogs. Initially I was angry because Simon was a rescue and we believe he had been hit by his former owner because he flinches when you raise your arm too high or too quickly. However, I realized that every party involved was at fault here. This is why I decided to write this post for animal owners, animal fear-ers, and apartment management teams.
For Animal Owners
- When you move to a new place, be sure to ask your neighbors if they like dogs or not. You don’t have to seek them out but as you see them walking outside, make yourself approachable and just say, “Excuse me, I’m new here and just wanted to know if you’re o.k. with dogs or not”. This way, you know who to avoid on your walks and who you can let your pup say hello to.
- Always ask when it comes to allowing your dog to play with others pups and don’t be offended if the person says “no”.
- Make sure you know the protocol that your apartment management office follows for complaints and/or informative messages and ask to be kept informed of any complaints against dogs. Even if it’s not your dog, it’s a good idea to know the general sentiment of all members in the apartment community. This will keep you up to date with everything so you don’t run into the issue that I did.
For Animal Fear-ers
- There are many reasons to be afraid of animals, particularly dogs, but it’s really unhealthy to live in fear of creatures that will inevitably be in your life every day. Especially in apartment-living, I highly suggest working towards overcoming your fears.
- Let people know that you’re afraid of dogs. Don’t yell or be defensive about it but informing people that you’re uncomfortable around dogs lets them know to be extra careful with keeping their dogs away from you. This is as much beneficial for them and their dogs as it is for you so don’t worry about coming across as rude or otherwise.
- If you have a complaint for your apartment complex office and you call it in, be sure that they follow through with a apartment-wide email or notification about the basis of your complaint (dogs off-leash, dogs on leashes that are too long, dogs barking, dogs tied up without supervision, etc.). Theoretically they should do this without being asked but in reality, you do need to make sure that they follow through in order to be fair to your neighbors.
For Apartment Complex Management
- Have clear rules/guidelines for pet owners and be sure there are reminders
- If any complaints are made about animals, be sure to notify the entire complex so animal owners can be aware that there are people living around them who have a problem with whatever the basis of the complaint was.
- Have a protocol for people who do not have animals. If people are fearful of animals or not used to being around animals yet your apartment complex allows pets, be sure to give them some kind of information on how to deal with living in an area that has pets. Some topics may include:
- How to deal with a loose dog/dog that is off-leash
- How to determine whether a dog is attacking you or simply coming to say hello
- How to handle a neighbor with a dog that barks a lot
- What is some basic doggy body language